Fashion and style. Two little words that are often used interchangeably when describing someone's aesthetic. But if you think about it, fashion and style refer to related but distinct concepts. I realized this in high school when I started yearning to break out of the mainstream trends and develop my look. Read on to understand the nuances between these terms and how to leverage fashion and style to create your best self-expression!
Fashion Follows the Trends
Let's start with fashion. Fashion refers to the latest trends and looks popular during a particular season or era. Fashion is temporary - it changes rapidly based on what designers, celebrities, and influencers wear. One month, mini skirts are all the rage; the next, it's all about maxi dresses.
Remember when I showed up to school in a cropped peplum top and high-waisted shorts in 2016? That outfit was peak fashion at the time. But you'd need help finding those pieces in Forever21 today. Style evolves quickly in response to innovations in textiles and silhouettes and shifting cultural norms.
Pay attention next time you flip through a fashion magazine - the spreads will give you a glimpse into current trends like cargo pants, corset tops, mini bags, and more. See someone wearing a trending piece on the street? That's fashion in action. Style is mainstream, widely accessible, and encouraged by the industry.
Style Runs Deeper Than Trends
Now, let's get into style. Style refers to the way someone combines and arranges clothing and accessories to create their look. Your style incorporates your favorite silhouettes, colors, patterns, and pieces that make you feel like your best self. Style may evolve as your tastes change, but it has longevity - it's more of a slow burn than a flickering flame.
I came into my style in my late teens and early 20s as I gained confidence and started seeing fashion as a form of creative self-expression. I ditched the ubiquitous flannels and jeans in favor of flowy maxi dresses, cozy sweaters, and boho jewelry that aligned with my vibe. Your distinct style shines through even if you're wearing the trendiest outfit - it's about how you wear it and make it your own.
The Key Differences
The core distinction between fashion and style comes down to this dichotomy: fashion is temporary, while style is lasting. Fashion prioritizes fleeting trends, while classic personal style stands the test of time no matter what's in vogue.
Fashion is also more mainstream and herd-like, while style is individualistic. With fashion, you follow the crowd, but style is inherently unique. Mainstream fashion is influenced by runways and what the Kardashians wear that week. Style comes from within. Sure, you can glean inspiration from fashionable looks, but in the end, your style choices reflect your personality.
Finally, fashion is driven by trends, innovations, and designer influence. Style comes from a place of self-knowledge - understanding what flatters your body type, what color palettes you're drawn to, and how you want to present yourself to the world. Think of fashion as a top-down influence and style as a bottom-up expression.
Finding the Balance
Fashion and style don't have to be opposing forces, though. Fashion trends can provide inspiration that enhances your style. I keep my eyes peeled for emerging silhouettes and fun prints to incorporate into my wardrobe. As a fashion-forward teenager, I also got a thrill from partaking in the latest trends, even when they didn't fully align with my burgeoning style identity.
There's joy in occasionally sampling fashion's buffet of options instead of always dressing "on brand." But I make sure my overall look still feels cohesive. If you stay attuned to which pieces spark joy versus those you wear just for trend's sake, you can strike the perfect balance between fashion and style.
Fashion and style combine to create your overall aesthetic. Fashion reflects the spirit of the times, while style represents your spirit. Knowing how to blend and balance the two will ensure you always show up as your best self - whatever that looks like at the moment.
Bringing It All Together
Understanding the nuances between fashion and style allows you to become an empowered and strategic dresser. You can keep your look fresh and on-trend while maintaining your unique style sensibilities. Here are some tips to help you walk the line between fashion and style:
- Take inspiration from runways and fashion blogs, but put your spin on trends by choosing silhouettes, colors, and styling that flatters your body and personality.
- Invest in high-quality, versatile basics like well-fitting jeans, little black dresses, and blazers that act as a blank slate you can dress up or down with trendier accessory pieces each season.
- Make a mood board with images representing your ideal aesthetic - timeless style icons and modern fashion looks that appeal to you. Refer to it when getting dressed to ensure outfits align with your vibe.
- Pay attention to which new trends bring you joy when you try them on vs. those you wear just to fit in. Stick to what sparks confidence.
- Have fun sometimes solely for fashion's sake - rock a bold new silhouette or print that breaks your style "rules" just because it's exciting and different.
- Most notably, let your style evolve naturally over time as your tastes change instead of radically overhauling it each season. Fashion fades, but style is forever.
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